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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am a person who always tries to help people and do chesed. Baruch Hashem I am a successful businessman and my wife is very supportive of my chesed activities. I wanted to share a situation that I am involved in where I am helping a family financially and the wife is extremely demanding. We invited them sometimes for meals to our home on Shabbos and Yom Tov. My wife works with me to help this family, but they have no boundaries. They expect so much from us that we are beginning to resent them.

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Our children are resentful when they come for meals and our Rav told me to continue to help them financially, but to stop inviting them to our home. Their children are very jealous of our children and it is creating a lot of issues.

I feel bad but I don’t want my family to suffer. I would like to share this situation. My Rav said that chesed begins at home. I would appreciate some words of chizuk. I know that we are doing the right thing for our family.

Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

A close cousin of mine says “It’s a mitzvah to help a rachmanus as long as they don’t make you into a rachmanus.” In your situation you were trying to do a chesed but it backfired on you. Chesed does begin at home, and I do agree with your Rav. It is extremely important to do chesed, but we have to put our children and family first.

I don’t know much about this family, however if there are poor boundaries, you are doing the right thing by helping them financially and not hurting your own family by bringing them into your home.

We all should try to do chesed. However, we must protect our children when we do help others. We must guard their neshamas and try to keep our homes warm, loving and positive. If you bring people into your home for Shabbos, you must watch your children carefully. We must be careful in doing mitzvos. Unfortunately, in my practice, I see that the greatest amount of child molestation occurs on Shabbos from Shabbos guests who offer to watch the children. Thus, while chesed is beautiful and needed, we cannot let others watch our children to even be alone with our children. We also cannot sacrifice our children’s emotional well-being in order to do chesed. You asked daas Torah and you are following the right path. I wish you hatzlacha in raising your own family and in doing chesed in your life!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.